My father is an accountant. In his professional work, he balances accounts and makes sure all the money is where it's supposed to be to earn the most for his company. This carries into his personal life, too. He uses software to keep all his accounts balanced to the penny, and he is constantly looking and savings and loans rates to make sure he is getting the best return with the least risk on his money.
As the daughter of an accountant and an accounting student myself, one would think I would be just like him - organized, diligent, prosperous. I am not. I am, however, smart with my money, or I try to be. My father has taught me a few tips and tricks to saving money, and I would like to pass these on to you.
I opened my first Certificate of Deposit, or "CD" when I turned 18. A CD is a financial product available at most banks. My father told me I would not have access to $1000 for one year. At first, this terrified me. What if I need that money? What is there is an emergency, and I can't wait one year? What's the point of a CD anyway? He answered all my questions. A savings account is where you keep your money for a small interest rate. At my bank currently, I am earning 0.1%, which means if I had $1000 sitting in my savings account for 1 year, I would earn about $1.00. Not a lot of interest, but that's the way the market is right now. At the same bank, the interest rate for a 1-year CD is 0.5%, which would earn about $5.00 interest on that same $1000. $5.00 over the course of a year does not seem like much, but you can see the difference already. The more money you put into that CD, the more interest it earns. CDs have minimum balances of about $500-$1000 depending on your bank. CDs can vary in lengths of time anywhere from a week to 6 months to 2 years. The main drawback is that your money is tied up for whatever length of time you choose for the CD. However, if you need to pull money from the CD before the "maturity date" (the date that the CD ends), you may do so, you would just forfeit the interest that would be earned on it, also known as a "penalty." So if the thought of not having access to your money for that time scares you like it did me, you don't have to worry about that. In the end, choose whatever length of time works best for you, and only put away money you don't anticipate needing during that time. The higher interest rate is worth it.
As a student, I have several loans to pay back. My most pressing loans are my college loans. Currently, I have two college loans at 6.8% and two college loans at 3.4% interest, all with the same lender.. In my experience paying them back, I have found out a few things that help me, and they may help you, too. Some lenders offer consolidation services. They take some or all of your loans, combine them to one loan, and give you a new interest rate. Generally, this new rate is between the highest and lowest rates you have. For me, the new interest rate and overall repayment would not have been beneficial because I would have paid more in interest. For my sister however, consolidation helped her to pay less interest and keep track of only one loan instead of her four. This may be an option for you. Another option I took advantage of is direct debit. With direct debit, my lender offered a 0.25% rate reduction on my loans. This is beneficial to anyone. I just have to make sure my money is in my account before the due date. Ask your lender if they offer a rate reduction as well. My last tip is if you can make a payment for more than the minimum amount, do that. Any additional funds will go directly to the principle, which means that there will be less interest accrued, so you are paying less and saving more in the long run. Most lenders offer deferral if you are returning to college at least half time. I did this, and my payments stopped during this time. Because I could afford it, I continued making payments on my loans, but since I did not have to make a minimum monthly payment, I chose exactly where I wanted my money to go. I put my payments toward my highest interest, highest balance loan. Since this was over two years, I saved a lot of money in interest doing it this way. I still made some payments toward the other interest-accruing loans, but this one was my priority.
The goal of these two topics is to keep more of your money - you earned it!